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### Book:Robert Greene
### Book:Joost Elffers
### Book:PREFACE
### Book:The feeling of having no power over people and events is generally
### Book:unbearable to us—when we feel helpless we feel miserable. No one
### Book:wants less power; everyone wants more. In the world today, however, it
### Book:is dangerous to seem too power hungry, to be overt with your power
### Book:moves. We have to seem fair and decent. So we need to be subtle—
### Book:congenial yet cunning, democratic yet devious.
### Book:This game of constant duplicity most resembles the power dynamic
### Book:that existed in the scheming world of the old aristocratic court.
### Book:Throughout history, a court has always formed itself around the person in
### Book:power—king, queen, emperor, leader. The courtiers who filled this court
### Book:were in an especially delicate position: They had to serve their masters,
### Book:but if they seemed to fawn, if they curried favor too obviously, the other
### Book:courtiers around them would notice and would act against them.
### Book:Attempts to win the master’s favor, then, had to be subtle. And even
### Book:skilled courtiers capable of such subtlety still had to protect themselves
### Book:from their fellow courtiers, who at all moments were scheming to push
### Book:them aside.
### Book:Meanwhile the court was supposed to represent the height of
### Book:civilization and refinement. Violent or overt power moves were frowned
### Book:upon; courtiers would work silently and secretly against any among them
### Book:who used force. This was the courtier’s dilemma: While appearing the
### Book:very paragon of elegance, they had to outwit and thwart their own
### Book:opponents in the subtlest of ways. The successful courtier learned over
### Book:time to make all of his moves indirect; if he stabbed an opponent in the
### Book:back, it was with a velvet glove on his hand and the sweetest of smiles
### Book:on his face. Instead of using coercion or outright treachery, the perfect
### Book:courtier got his way through seduction, charm, deception, and subtle
### Book:strategy, always planning several moves ahead. Life in the court was a
### Book:never-ending game that required constant vigilance and tactical thinking.
### Book:It was civilized war.
### Book:Today we face a peculiarly similar paradox to that of the courtier:
### Book:Everything must appear civilized, decent, democratic, and fair. But if we
### Book:play by those rules too strictly, if we take them too literally, we are
### Book:crushed by those around us who are not so foolish. As the great
### Book:Renaissance diplomat and courtier Niccolò Machiavelli wrote, “Anyman who
### Book:tries to be good all the time is bound to come to ruin among the
### Book:great number who are not good.” The court imagined itself the pinnacle
### Book:of refinement, but underneath its glittering surface a cauldron of dark
### Book:emotions—greed, envy, lust, hatred—boiled and simmered. Our world
### Book:today similarly imagines itself the pinnacle of fairness, yet the same ugly
### Book:emotions still stir within us, as they have forever. The game is the same.
### Book:Outwardly, you must seem to respect the niceties, but inwardly, unless
### Book:you are a fool, you learn quickly to be

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